The Supreme Court on Friday made it clear that it will not allow to “smother” and “throttle” the freedom of media. Dismissing a PIL demanding an investigation into alleged cuts received by Indian journalists to write in favor of the multi-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. A bench led by Justice Dipak Misra made it clear in his statement that the Apex court would turn down any such petitions which are “disguised” as public interest litigation with the intent of “curtailing” the independence of the media.
The PIL was filed by senior journalist Hari Jaisingh, who had claimed that Christian Michel, a ‘facilitator’, was allocated Rs 217 crore (approximately 30 million Euros) by top officials of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland for “managing” Indian government officials. But the bench dismissed the petition, describing it as “an attack on the independence of media”.
The bench which also included Justices A M Khanwilkar and Mohan M Shantanagoudar, said that “We must presume integrity and objectivity of media. We cannot curtail the right of the media in this manner… media has been given an independent status in our democratic polity,”
“Of this sum, 6 million Euros (approximately Rs 50 crore) was set aside specifically to manage the Indian media,” claimed the petition, as it pursued course to the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to submit a report on whether the Indian media played a role in influencing the deal for a dozen VVIP helicopters which was rejected by the SC.
“It seems there is a disguised attempt to curtail independence and freedom of media…it is a dangerous phenomenon. By this petition, the freedom given to media may be smothered. It is an attack on media,” said the bench.